John Beck is a man for the disappointed, for the downtrodden, for those who have been challenged, tossed aside and repeatedly sacked for a loss of 12 on 3rd-and-5.
His pro quarterbacking career hasn’t gone exactly the way he would have drawn it up. Being drafted out of BYU by a hapless Miami club, and transformed in his rookie season into a Fred Flintstone punching bag as the football people who wanted him in the first place were fired, then fading into the third tier as a backup in Baltimore before getting his big break ... uh, no ... in Washington, has tested even his sunshiny outlook.
Working your tail off, waiting for your chance with the Redskins, thinking this is, at long last, the place and time of ascension toward being the quarterback you’ve always dreamed of being, and then getting kicked around by Carolina, Buffalo and San Francisco, having your offense ground down to the nub, before getting benched again, will do that to most humans.
But take heart, all you discouraged and defeated.
Beck remains upbeat, and only slightly beat up, as he moves forward in his attempt to become a starter as an NFL QB. Remarkably upbeat, given those huge potholes, the strewn engine parts, in his rearview. He sees only open road ahead. During a recent interview on my radio show, Beck said he’s learned and is ready to take advantage of a better tomorrow.
"Last season didn’t go any way I would have liked it to go," he said. "But we were in a tough spot as a team. And I went out there and things didn’t really work out the way I wanted. I didn’t get to finish the season as the starter.
"But I’m pretty excited about this upcoming year, because this last year there were a lot of things going into it we knew were going to make it difficult. And this year I got to get some more experience. I really feel a lot more comfortable."
Beck has always leaned on the examples of others, especially when their arduous journeys have given more hope to his own.
"I’ve talked to a lot of guys that are considered Hall-of-Fame guys that had great careers," he said. "And they’ll tell you, ‘Listen, nobody’s path is just all roses. … There’s always going to be tough times, and the ones that win are the ones that can last through those tough times and find a way to come out at the end.’"
That’s vintage Beck. Even in college, when he faced struggles at BYU, he recognized that adversity happens. And he went on to play big and win big.
That payoff hasn’t yet come in the NFL.
"Did I expect there to be this much tough time?" he said. "Not at all. … [When] I came to Washington, I knew I was going to get a chance. I really worked my tail off this offseason. When I got my opportunity to play, the game that I got put in, I did well. Things started off good, and I thought, ‘OK, things are gonna roll.’ "
Things did not roll. They got rolled.
Losses, key injuries and lousy play snuffed Beck’s chance to shine, prompting him to say: "You’re in this changing world where you don’t know how things are going to shake down because you’re not comfortable with it. So, it makes it tough."
Not tough enough to cause Beck to doubt whether he’ll be prepared for his next shot. He said he’ll work and work until it works out.
Call it determination, or delusion, but he went into Mike Shanahan’s office at the end of the season and said: "Coach, I want to play because I feel like, having that experience, I know I can play better."
Shanahan’s response: "I know you can, too."
Most of the rest of us do not know.
Beck couldn’t even beat out Rex Grossman.
But Beck will tell you, and tell you again, as though it were memorized straight out of a self-help manual, those other stars blasted through their difficulties and, when everyone doubted them, found great triumphs.
"Some things are out of your control, and what you have to do is just be able to learn how to deal with it," he said. "And then try to find a way to come out the other end a winner. You know, did this season go the way I wanted? No. But because last season went that way, does it mean this season has to go the same? Not at all. … There will be another opportunity down the road."
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson
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